THE CHURCH AS THE BODY OF CHRIST
HAVING NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR NATURAL LIFE,
OUR OLD MAN, OUR FLESH, AND OUR SELF
Thus far, we have seen the intrinsic view of the Body of Christ in the first two chapters of Ephesians. Under the revelation which we have picked up from these chapters, we all should be clear that the church as the Body of Christ has nothing to do with our natural life, our old man, our flesh, and our self. The real situation in all the churches, however, does not yet match this revelation.
We need to be people who exhibit Christ according to Hymns, #864—"Let Us Exhibit Christ." But when the brothers come together to talk about church affairs, they may talk in a way that is full of the natural life and the natural concept. The natural life and the natural concept have nothing to do with the Body of Christ. When many of the saints come to the meetings, they like to share something; they like to prophesy. But my question to these saints is, "Do you speak outside of Christ or in Christ?" I have no intention of quenching the functioning of the saints. I am happy to hear and to see the saints sharing in the meetings. But I still have a question as to whether or not our sharing in the meetings is in ourselves or absolutely in Christ. Perhaps our sharing is seventy-five percent in ourselves and only twenty-five percent in Christ.
Sometimes in a conference the responsible brothers will ask the saints to share for no longer than one minute. This gives time for many to share. Instead of taking this fellowship, however, someone will stand up and share for three minutes. Then the elders are bothered and do not know what to do. If they stop this one publicly, that does not seem polite. To be an elder in the church is not an easy thing. They always say to one another, "What shall we do? What shall we do?" Then some of them may ask me what to do. My response also is, "What shall we do?" Many times we have no way to act because the expression of the flesh among the saints is too strong.
When a brother is sharing too long in a meeting, one of the elders may stand up to politely ask him to shorten his sharing and give time to others. Instead of listening to this elder, however, the brother will continue to share longer. Is this brother’s speaking in Christ? Is his doing something created by Christ? Actually, this is altogether in the antique Adam. I have seen many things like this in the church life over the past sixty years.
In the summer of 1948, we had a conference in Shanghai for Brother Nee to resume his ministry. He had been away from his ministry for six years. One evening an older sister, who was bold, eloquent, and very outspoken, offered a prayer in the meeting. She offered a prayer which was very spiritual in wording, but her offering was fully in the flesh. This older sister was Brother Nee’s mother. We did not do anything in the meeting. After the meetings, those of us who were caring for the conference would go to another room for refreshments and further fellowship. When we came together after that particular meeting, Brother Nee asked me to write a note to that older sister. I surely knew who that older sister was. I asked him to dictate the letter, and I would write what he wanted to say. He said something very strong. He told her that her prayer in the meeting was altogether in the flesh, and he asked her not to do this anymore in any meeting. He and I and an elderly sister signed this note. We all had the peace that we did the proper thing.
(The Intrinsic View of the Body of Christ, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)